Sunday, May 11, 2008
Losing My Desire
It wasn't long ago that I couldn't drive past a Target without being consumed with lust. I yearned for the shiny red shopping cart, for the seasonal decor and knock off clothing. Every item tossed into the cart promised a better life, closer friends, a thinner physique, a happier home. A spree through Nordstrom's or Old Navy would make me hipper, cooler, slimmer, a better friend. Toys R Us offered hours of entertainment for the kids, a break for me, and and the latest and greatest plastic from Fisher Price.
After watching the Story of Stuff and The 11th Hour, it dawned on me that buying things wasn't so great for the planet. For every truck load of goods shipped to market, thirty two head to the landfill. Only 1% of the stuff we buy is still in use six months later. With those statistics in mind, I stopped shopping cold turkey. But it was like an addict stops. I still had the desire. I still craved the red and white picnic blanket, hungered for new Crocs for the kids, and pined for a brightly colored summer dish set. I still believed that things could make me happy. Because it wasn't good for me in the larger sense, though, I abstained.
Time passed and I stopped thinking about Target, about Bed Bath & Beyond, about Toys R Us. I was so busy chatting at the farmers' market, planting a garden, growing beans, peas and carrots from seed to plate, biking to town, discussing books with my book club, and making yogurt, that I didn't have time to buy things much less dream about buying things. Instead, I discovered hobbies, learned new skills, developed new friends, got outside and soaked up dirt and sunshine. I stopped listening to the marketplace telling me who I was and listened to myself. I found where my home lies and my place in it.
My oldest - aka Evil Knievel - is ready for a new scooter. He's beyond ready, having long outgrown the babyish one that he uses to perform jumps and wheelies along our sidewalk. I've yet to be to find a scooter in decent condition on Craigslist, though. The T-Ball set also broke and the little guy isn't up for pitched hits yet. My wallet bursts with Toys R Us gift certificates leftover from my reward card days. The closest Toys R Us is a short five minute drive from one son's school.
A year ago, I would have spent those gift certificates the week they arrived in the mail. I would have eagerly loaded the boys in a TRU shopping cart and scouted the aisles for pirate toys, a new knight or ogre for the Imaginext castle collection, yet another Lightening McQueen car. Did we have the green Ramone yet? Now, the gift cards languish in my wallet, slowly multiplying as the months tick by.
In Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle, David Wann wrote that "when we change a few key priorities, many of our material wants will cease to be obsessions. It’s not just that we won’t need the next generation of gadgets and clothes; we truly won’t even want them." (5). My priorities have, indeed, changed. It's not that we don't need the scooter and T Ball set. It's that I truly don't want them. I can think of nothing I'd rather do less than swing by Toys R Us, or Target, or The Gap. When it comes down to it, I really have lost my desire.